Chicken de la Calzaghe?

Welsh boxing hero Joe Calzaghe is known for many things – his superior boxing, his good looks, his brittle hands – but his thin skin hasn’t attracted much attention, at least until now. But the IBF/WBO super welterweight champion did not like IBA champ Glen Johnson recent remarks regarding the size of the Welshman’s cojones one bit.

Glen Johnson, who, like Calzaghe, knows a thing or two about courage (and a thing or three about psychology as well), has labeled Joe “chickenâ€? for pulling out of their July 8 unification bout at the Millennium Stadium, what was supposed to be Calzaghe’s triumphant homecoming bout in Wales. Johnson even went so far as to suggest that Joe faked the hand injury that deep-sixed their semi-superfight.

“Joe has a reputation among boxers that I wouldn’t want,â€? Johnson said last week, “and that’s being someone who keeps ducking the big fights. I don’t know any fighter that has pulled out of more fights than Joe Calzaghe – he has a big reputation for it. The common theme seems to be the guy doesn’t have any heart. He is scared of the tough guys and when he starts being lined up with the big names, he thinks, s**t, what have I got myself into?

“His nickname should be chicken Joe.”

Calzaghe has been around, has heard it all, and knows every trick in the book, so he decided to up the ante and challenge Johnson to a quarter-mil side bet to give even more oomph to their fight.

“Glen Johnson means nothing to me,” said Calzaghe, the world’s longest reigning champion. “He is a good journeyman fighter who has done well in a very, very, very poor division. There is no truth to me not wanting to fight him, I would love to fight the guy and if we do I will put down a £200,000 side bet with him that I will knock him out. Let’s see if he puts his money where his mouth is. Obviously he’s got a big mouth but he’s no man and when the chance comes I’ll smash Johnson up.”

Calzaghe’s manager Frank Warren responded to Johnson’s comments and Calzaghe’s response by saying, “Sometimes you have to choose to battle through the pain or walk away from the sport altogether.”